LAWRENCEBURG, Indiana — The Southeast Indiana community of Lawrenceburg is buzzing with news that a convenience store there sold the one winning Powerball ticket in Saturday's drawing.
The winning ticket is worth $163 million, just under $100 million if the winner takes a lump sum payment. The identity of the winner remains a mystery.
Lawrenceburg is about 20 miles west of Cincinnati.
With no winner yet to step forward, the clerks at the Circle K convenience store and gas station that sold the winning ticket are wondering which of their customers hit the jackpot.
Store manager Mary Cummings thought they may have found the winner this morning.
"He said, 'Where do you claim them?' I said Indianapolis," Cummings recalled.
And when a second clerk pressed the customer if he was the winner?
"He just grins real big and turns around and walks out," Cummings smiled.
The town of fewer than 5000 people is best known as the home to the Argosy Casino. Clouds of steam from nearby power plants dominate Lawrenceburg's skyline. Locals hope for a local winner.
"I'd like to see the money stay here in town for sure," said Steve Doyle of Lawrenceburg, "They could donate to schools or churches."
The WHAS11 crew was the sixth TV crew to stop by the Circle K Monday. Despite the attention and the buzz, many lottery customers did not realize that their store had sold the winning ticket.
"I had no idea," Duane Spence of Cincinnati said, "I just wanted to check my numbers. I picked them up the other day and I knew it was a large jackpot."
While the clerks and regular customers hope someone from the Lawrenceburg area hit the jackpot, they say it is just as likely that the winner is one of the tens of thousands of Argosy Casino patrons who pass by the store on the way to and from the riverboat.
One of them is Michael Makeba of Columbus, Ohio who stopped at the store on Monday on his way to the casino, and spent his entire time there kicking himself for not following through on a promise he made on Saturday to buy Powerball tickets.
"I was supposed to come down here and pick up tickets for the lottery for my mother-in-law and instead we took the money and went to the casino on Saturday," Makeba lamented. He told WHAS11's Joe Arnold that his mother-in-law had a "feeling" about the Powerball purchase.
"I'm dying inside," he continued.
For the second jackpot in a row, the winning Powerball ticket was sold in Indiana. This one is worth $163 million.
Monique Schick cashed $3 today from her $10 Powerball ticket purchase, but laughed off the loss, "You know what? The stock market ain't much better, is it?"
The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are estimated at 195 million to one.
But when your convenience store sells the winning ticket, it suddenly doesn't seem quite as impossible.
The latest Kentucky Lottery sales figures show that as the recession hit last year — lottery sales jumped 4 and a half percent.
But sales of Hoosier Lottery scratch-offs were down 1.7% in the last quarter of 2008, which they attribute to less discretionary spending.
Hoosier Lottery and Indiana Powerball sales are also down, but the Lottery says those sales are more jackpot driven. With 36 jackpots since 1992, Indiana has sold more winning Powerball tickets than any other state, but the Indiana Council on Problem Gambling says that does not lead to more gambling addiction.
They say 11% of help line calls concern the lottery, while 70% percent are casino related.
"If they want to spend their last dollar on Powerball, so be it," Cummings said, "that's their choice."
A methadone clinic is next door to the convenience store and the casino is only about one mile away.
The Hoosier Lottery offices were closed Monday for the MLK holiday, so no one could come forward even if they wanted to. The winner has 180 days to claim the Powerball jackpot, or the money goes back to the participating states.